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The Future for Field Service is in the Cloud

By Mike Henstridge

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Field service automation offers field service organizations a cost-effective way to generate more revenue without hiring more staff, improve the productivity of field personnel, and meet the growing customer expectations and demands. However, a lot of these “off-the-shelf” software solutions require companies to install the software on their premise and take responsibility for the management and maintenance of the software, servers, and network infrastructure. Others can be custom designed and developed for implementation on the customer premise or can operate in a cloud environment.

Only field service automation solutions, that are designed for the cloud and mobile, enable field service organizations to take full advantage of the business benefits that are driving companies and their applications to the cloud. Below are seven ways that cloud-based solutions, like FiveSixTwo’s custom solutions, can help field service organizations grow revenue, increase profitability, and build customer loyalty.

1. REDUCE CAPITAL SPENDING

On-premise solutions require companies to make significant investments in IT infrastructure. Investments that include:

  • Servers
  • Storage
  • Communications infrastructure
  • Racks and enclosures
  • Software licenses

For a moderately sized implementation, these costs could easily total more than $100,000. By contrast, in a cloud solution, servers, storage, communications infrastructure, racks and enclosures, and the software all reside in the “cloud”. The infrastructure is shared by multiple companies and users. Cloud-based solutions virtually eliminate capital investment for customers (except for the mobile hardware).

2. ADD CAPABILITY WITHOUT ADDING OPERATIONAL COST

Automated field service solutions provide several benefits to field service organizations. Benefits like:

  • Increased revenue (more jobs)
  • Improved productivity of staff in the field and in the office
  • Accelerated cash flow
  • Superior customer service
  • Greater profitability

However, an on-premise based solution can reduce a company’s return on their automated field service investment. On-premise based solutions often result in additional, on-going, operational costs that can include:

  • Additions to IT and/or support staff
  • Space, power, and cooling of IT equipment

Cloud-based solutions enable companies to realize a faster return on their mobile field service benefits. Any additional operational costs are minimal and revenue, productivity, cash flow, customer service, and profitability benefits are realized faster. Cloud-based solutions enable companies to realize all the benefits of automation, only faster!

3. RAPID IMPLEMENTATION

On premise-based solutions take time. Time to purchase all the hardware and software and time to integrate all the hardware and software into the existing IT infrastructure. With a cloud-based solution, companies realize all the benefits faster. Since all the IT infrastructure resides in the “cloud”, the integration process consists solely of ensuring that the cloud-based solution works with existing accounting, ERP or CRM systems. That means faster implementations and faster ROI.

4. ELIMINATE HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE MAINTENANCE COSTS

On-premise based hardware and software purchases aren’t just a one-time expense. There are ongoing maintenance costs as well. Maintenance costs that can average more than the original cost of the hardware when multiplied over a period of five years. Cloud-based solutions include:

  • Software upgrades
  • Hardware and software patches
  • Built-in reliability (geographically dispersed data centers, redundant server, storage and communications architecture)

Cloud-based solutions enable companies to leverage the latest in hardware, software, and communications features without additional investment or incurring high, ongoing maintenance costs.

5. REALIZE PREDICTABLE COSTS FOR THE LIFE OF THE SYSTEM

The cost of on-premise solutions can rise unpredictably over time. As the user base grows, software license fees can appreciate rapidly. The IT infrastructure, operational costs, and hardware and software maintenance are often arbitrary since they are based on current economics, labor costs, and government regulations. Cloud-based solutions enable field service organizations to fix the cost of their solution. Organizations can then construct intelligent business plans that more realistically predict the performance of their business today and tomorrow.

6. CUSTOMIZE THE SOLUTION

Software license purchases include support for a specific number of users specified by the software provider. The number of users is often more or less than the specific number required by a field service organization. If additional user licenses are required, companies are often forced to purchase another set number of user licenses again, not usually the specific number required. Cloud-based solutions enable companies to use and pay for a solution that fits their needs exactly. With a cloud-based solution, field service organizations can customize their automated solution to meet their current needs, then incrementally grow the solution as required.

7. AUTOMATE BACK-UP AND DISASTER RECOVERY

Field service organizations that implement an on-premise based solution must also determine and implement data back-up and disaster recovery plans for that solution. Although many times, back-up and recovery can be integrated with the data back-up and recovery implementations of other applications, additional costs are still incurred. Planning resources, testing, additional software, server, disk space, and even communications infrastructure are all costs that may be realized when data back-up and recovery are required for an on-premise based solution. Cloud-based solutions include data back-up and recovery as a component. The infrastructure is housed in geographically dispersed locations to insure against natural or other disasters in specific geographies. Cloud-based, made for mobile solutions, enable companies to boost the bottom line by increasing the productivity of field and office workers while building better customer relationships. By keeping costs down, implementation times short, and transactions fast and reliable, companies can mobilize their workforce quickly, cost-effectively, and profitably.